At some point in almost everyone's lives, they will find themselves living with a roommate. Whether in college or later down the road, sharing a living space can be a struggle. To avoid living out a roommate horror story, it’s best to follow these guidelines when moving in or out of roommate situation:

When Moving In:

Rent, Utilities and Other Bills

Rent, water, gas, electric, internet – there’s certainly enough bills to go around. When it comes to bills, it’s key to make sure the responsibilities for getting them paid doesn’t fall solely on one roommate. With apps such as Venmo and Paypal, it’s easy for one roommate to pay the utilities bill and quickly be reimbursed by the other roommates. Keep a dry erase board on the fridge with the bill totals and due dates so no one can claim they didn’t know what they owed.

Ground rules for guests

Chances are both you and your roommate have at least a few friends and a significant other. Don’t forget to set the ground rules for those house guests at the time of move-in. From which bathroom the guests will use to how many nights is too many nights for a guest to crash on the couch, these rules are best set early on, rather than after your roommate’s boyfriend has become a permanent house fixture.


There are few things more irritating than waking up in the morning, pouring yourself a bowl of cereal, opening the fridge to grab the milk and realizing your roommate used the last of it. Will you and your roommates have communal groceries? Will there be an alternating schedule of who buys what? Will each person mark their food in the fridge with sticky notes? Does anyone have any food allergies that need to be taken into consideration? Some nasty arguments can start when people get hangry, so be sure to set the grocery guidelines in the beginning.

Cleaning Roles

Who takes out the trash? How often is the main living area vacuumed? Avoid a dirty dishes standoff by allocating the cleaning responsibilities on day one. Everyone has different ideas of what “clean” means. If one person is used to a much higher standard of cleanliness, it’s easy for things to turn nasty (both literally and figuratively) rather fast. Decide how and when the shared living area will be cleaned so one roommate doesn’t end up becoming the bitter maid.

Steady Income

No, you don’t need to run a credit check or review the employment history of your new roommate. However, it’s best to casually ensure your roommate has a steady source of income for the foreseeable future. You don’t want to get stuck footing their portion of the rent month after month. Whether they work or their parents help them out with bills, it’s good to be aware. It’s perfectly fair the expect your roommate to be reliable when it comes to your shared bills.

When Moving Out:

Security Deposit

It takes a group effort to get your security deposit back when moving out. If one roommate has left a considerable hole in their bedroom wall, make sure they get it patched. Have everyone chip in to get the carpets cleaned after all the furniture is out. Make sure each roommate knows when they’re expected to be out and have their space cleaned for the landlord to check. Your best chance to receiving your deposit lies in working together to clean, patch and paint any damage that’s been made since moving in.

Cancelling Utilities

Similar to determining who’s responsible for paying what bills, cancelling utilities or transferring them over to a new roommate is par for the course when moving out. Before parting ways with your roommates, make sure all utility bills are paid in full and the companies know you will no longer be living there. If necessary, give the companies a forwarding address so that any remaining balances can be paid quickly and the new renters don’t just throw the bill in the trash.

Transferring Lease

Circumstances change, and sometimes one roommate wants to move out before the end of a lease. If you’re the one leaving, be sure to give your roommates as much prior notice as possible so they can sort out your portion of the rent or find a new roommate. If you plan to be subleasing, take the responsibility to find a subleaser and check with the landlord beforehand so the remaining roommates don’t get in trouble for breaking their rental agreement unknowingly.

By following these guidelines and generally doing your best to respect your roommates, you’ll be able to avoid those nightmare stories we hear about all the time. When you’re ready to move in or out, know you can always rely on UNITS Moving & Portable Storage to get your things there intact. 

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